Advice on Design Thinking for stellar product development 

1 September, 2023
Advice on Design Thinking for stellar product development  | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
1 September, 2023

Get a handy advice from industry experts on integrating Design Thinking into product strategy, fostering innovation, and achieving cross-functional alignment.

In the fast-paced world of product development, companies seek methodologies that resonate deeply with users and align with their core business objectives. Our engaging discussion with Lisa Chesterfield, Angus Tait, and Bryan Williams reveals valuable perspectives on Design Thinking and its integration into successful product strategies.

Expert Insights into Design Thinking

Lisa Chesterfield, Director of Strategy, Innovation & Ventures at Monitor, Deloitte: Lisa sheds light on how product strategy and design thinking intertwine. “Product strategy aligns us on where we’re going, what problems the product we’re developing will solve for, and for who and why,” she explains. For her, design thinking offers a way to “inform and deliver on that product strategy” by deeply understanding customer segments and addressing their problems in a human-centric manner.

She highlights three primary ways in which design thinking influences product development:

  1. By fostering a profound understanding of what the end users genuinely need and refining the problem statement to focus on those exact needs.
  2. Through the use of design thinking tools which enable ideation of numerous solutions, thereby paving the way for innovation and ensuring prioritisation based on real user pain points.
  3. The discipline of early prototyping and iterative testing, which Lisa deems the most significant influence, as it bridges user needs with product features. She rightly points out, “Design thinking can act as a conduit between user needs and product features.”

Drawing from her rich experience at Deloitte and her entrepreneurial endeavours, Lisa advocates for a robust product strategy that emphasises innovation and leverages design thinking frameworks to identify, assess, and communicate opportunities effectively.

Angus Tait, Product Design Director at Xero: Angus acknowledges the challenges that come with multiple team members, emphasizing the importance of alignment. “Design thinking, in all types of product making, is about bringing everybody together to get on the same page,” he states. For Angus, tools like journey mapping and the “jobs to be done” framework can facilitate alignment. Still, the most effective method is engaging directly with customers. “The sense of alignment just kind of happens naturally,” he remarks. Angus champions the Google Sprint, (Lisa suggested Balanced Breakthrough Framework as good one too) especially for startups, describing the transformative power of user feedback on the final day as an impactful introduction to design thinking.

Bryan Williams, Founder of Hockey Stick Advisory: Bryan underscores the importance of determining what the customer truly needs and how to best address it. He explains, “The typical model is you build, buy or partner.” Companies often fall into the trap of overpromising due to limited resources. To navigate this, Bryan suggests a deep focus on the core problems and, if necessary, partnering with others who can offer complementary solutions. Using payment platforms as an example, he illustrates how underlying technologies, like Stripe in Shopify, integrate seamlessly to enhance user experience.

Design Thinking remains pivotal in developing user-centric products that resonate deeply with their needs. Through its methodologies, teams achieve alignment, innovation thrives, and products become more attuned to the very people they serve. As Angus aptly puts it, “Start with talking to your customers and all getting on the same page.”

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